Back home at Cleveland High, where he attended school and then spent three years during the late-1970s as an assistant football coach, Steve Landress is a happy man. He has the job as head coach that he wanted for so long and he has a winning team. So what's not to like?
Actually, being 6-0 and No. 3 in The Times' City rankings is probably icing on the cake. His real victory a couple years ago, after he and Jeff Engilman won their second straight 3-A title as co-coaches at L.A. Manual Arts, was getting a transfer out of the inner-city.
"It's kind of a dream I had when I started coaching, and it has come true," Landress said of his return to Cleveland.
But with the winning team, and Engilman an assistant in charge of the defense, the dream is getting better. Last Friday's 17-0 win over San Fernando was especially significant since the Cavaliers proved they could win without a big game from running back Albert Fann, who, after rushing for 786 yards and 12 touchdowns in the previous 5 games, was held to 24 yards in 13 carries and no touchdowns.
"People say this team is Albert Fann and nothing else," Landress pointed out afterward. "I guess people won't say that anymore."
And Cleveland, 1-7 last season and held to seven points or less five times, and 2-7 in 1984, is a doormat no more.
"I'm not surprised at what we're doing," Landress said Monday. "We haven't made a lot of big mistakes--haven't had many fumbles or turnovers--and that's a big point for what we're doing. We're not beating teams by a lot . . . but we are playing sound, fundamental football."
Just part of the reason it's so nice to be home.
"Everything seems to have worked out right so far," he said. "The kids are working real hard and the coaches are putting a lot of time in, and we've all been pulling together."
Landress, on the difference between his teams at Manual Arts and Cleveland: "When I was at Manual, we would blow people out. We would play for 24 minutes and then rest for 24 minutes. Now, I can't rest at all until after the game. And then I go out and get a treadmill test."
The NCAA Council, in an attempt to reduce the pressure on high school seniors and their families, will seek legislation at the NCAA convention that will cut the recruiting time for football and basketball in half.
The proposals endorsed by the council usually are adopted.
If passed at San Diego in January, the current football recruiting period of 7 months will be cut to 3 1/2 and basketball will be trimmed from 8 to 4 months. The legislation also includes a rule banning boosters, who now must stay away from off-campus recruiting, from the process entirely.
"The proposal would prohibit contact by (anyone) other than institutional staff at any time, either off campus or on campus and prohibit any telephone or mail contact," said NCAA President Jack Davis of the University of Oregon.
"Hopefully, we can not only leave the recruiting up to those who know what they're doing, but also reduce the potential for abuses and violations in recruiting."
The Garden Grove Rancho Alamitos football team began last Thursday's game with La Quinta of Westminster with 25 players and fell behind, 42-0, by the fourth quarter. Then, the La Quinta fans decided they should pour it on, too.
The Aztec cheerleaders led cheers toward the Rancho Alamitos side of the field, starting with "We've got points, yes we do! We've got points, how 'bout you?" They followed that with "We've got players, yes we do . . . " and then "We've got perfection . . . "
A long pause greeted the last one on the Rancho Alamitos side. Then came a rebuttal: "We've got class, yes we do. We've got class, how 'bout you?"
Things got a little quiet after that among La Quinta fans.